Ruby Thomas is an Early Childhood Education (ECE) major at UMO at Wilmington. The 59 year-old Rocky Point resident was recently named the ECE Student of the Year at the University’s annual awards event. A daycare administrator for over 36 years Thomas is working to earn the degree to add to her hands-on childcare knowledge. She evidentially wants to reopen her own childcare facility. Thomas is the mother of Yalaunda Michelle Thomas and Tya Charnell Thomas.
Read below as Ruby Thomas answers a few questions about her educational journey at the University of Mount Olive.
Everybody has a story. What is your story?
My mother brought up four children with little or no income after separation from my dad. She taught me that you can succeed if you just ask God, and not let anything stand in your way. She managed to further her eighth grade education through Cape Fear Community College adult program and obtained a nurse’s aide certificate there.
I got married young. I have two daughters and helped bring up my sister’s two children before I married. I volunteered at my daughter’s daycare and fell in love with all the children. I was there so much that the owners offered me a job. That is where my plight to serve children to the best of my ability first began. I left that daycare after 21 years. Then my brother and I opened a daycare facility on Princess Place Drive. After 15 years of service and the NC budget cuts, I prayed and decided to close the doors. This closure presented the perfect opportunity for me to pursue my bachelor’s degree.
What previous college experience did you have?
I attended Cape Fear Community College. I received an associate degree, a Medical Coding certificate and Bank Teller Training certificate.
What made you decide to return to College to get your bachelor’s degree?
I decided to pursue my degree because of new state mandates and a need to find out what was new in the world of education, and most of all, to challenge myself.
What is one thing that you have learned thus far, that you will definitely use in your new profession?
I know that with God, all things are possible and that is where my faith is, in Him. At UMO, I’ve learned not to fear the unknown territories. If I think I can, therefore, I can. This is the same information I have shared with my children and other children and now, I’m taking that advice myself.
Why do you think it is important for children to get an early start in education?
I know from my career in daycare, that children comprehend a great deal, that we as adults do not give them credit for understanding. If we help them grow their present knowledge from what they know into what they are able to know, we have given them their first keys to success.
Who are your favorite UMO professors and why?
I would say Dr. Jillian Ardley and Professor Harold Griffin. Dr. Ardley is prayerful, so when she opened her class with prayer, I knew God put me in the right place. Professor Griffin, because he believes in you and makes you believe in you. He lets you know that he is there to help you succeed. Both of these people believe in students’ success.